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Reflections On Silicon Valley's Fiber Optic Attack

edited 1:34AM

Earlier this month, a series of underground fiber optic cables were cut in Silicon Valley, causing phone and internet disruption to homes and businesses, and taking a number of systems offline for the better part of a day:

"Joy Alexiou, a public information officer with Santa Clara County... said that about 52,000 households using Verizon's landline service were affected, as were an unknown number of cell phone users. Furthermore, she said ATMs in the area were also shut down... The biggest concern was the 911 emergency service, which was shut down."

Services were restored, and the San Jose Mercury News reports that AT&T has offered a $250,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of any suspects, though none have yet been identified.

Open Source evangalist Bruce Perens has posted a detailed look at the cyber attack, and what businesses need to learn from it, and it's not good news for cloud computing:

"This should lead managers of critical services to reconsider their dependence on software-as-a-service rather than local servers. Having your email live at Google means you don't have to manage it, but you can count on it being unavailable if your facility loses its internet connection. The same is true for any web service. And that's not acceptable if you work at a hospital or other emergency services provider, and really shouldn't be accepted at any company that expects to provide services during an infrastructure failure."

We don't know who was behind this attack, or what they were trying to accomplish. We also don't know who's behind hacking into the US electrical grid. We do know we need to be doing a much better job protecting our digial infrastructure. Perens concludes:

"Will there be another Morgan Hill? Definitely. And the next time it might happen to a denser community that won't be so astonishingly able to sustain the trouble using its two-way radios and hams. The next time, it might be connected with some other event, be it crime or terrorism. Company and government officers take notice: the only way you'll fare well is if you start planning now."


  • I have been a big pusher for cloud computing and off-site server hosting.  Although there are times when that will be a problem.  Example, your web application is in Arizona and you're using it in South Texas (a call center).  DSL goes down in your area.  Although your web application is still up, but it sure is a drag that you have to "move" your operations for a while in order for you to keep going.  Like I said, though, I am a big pusher for offsite hosting...I ought to because we offer it!

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